• FEMA denies rebuilding funds to West, Texas, for deadly plant explosion (The Associated Press): "The Federal Emergency Management Agency is refusing to provide additional money to help rebuild the small Texas town where a deadly fertilizer plant explosion leveled numerous homes and a school, and killed 15 people. According to a letter obtained by The Associated Press, FEMA said it reviewed the state’s appeal to help but decided that the explosion 'is not of the severity and magnitude that warrants a major disaster declaration.'"
• West blast: Sen. John Cornyn calls FEMA aid denial "inexcusable" (The Dallas Morning News): "Sen. John Cornyn called FEMA’s decision to deny aid to help rebuild West, Texas, after a deadly fertilizer plant blast 'completely unacceptable.' 'We will aggressively pursue this matter with FEMA and pursue all appeals and remedies available to us. It’s just simply unacceptable. This was a disaster area and their failure to acknowledge it as such is just inexcusable,' Cornyn said on his weekly call with Texas reporters this afternoon. 'We’re going to get the residents of West the assistance they need.'"
• The Best and Worst Legislators 2013 (Texas Monthly): "If there is a single idea that informs our choices of the Best and Worst legislators, it is that the business of governing Texas is a personal business, and that the influence of personality has more to do with success or failure in politics than party or ideology."
• Senate: Redistricting vote set for Friday (Austin American-Statesman): "The Texas Senate plans to vote on controversial redistricting maps Friday and could be through passing bills in the special legislative session early next week. Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst said Wednesday that the upper chamber has scheduled a final vote on political boundary maps for senators, House members and members of Congress before noon on Friday, along with a possible vote on another bill to close a loophole in state law concerning 17-year-old capital murder defendants."
• Try NSA leaker Edward Snowden for treason, says Sen. John Cornyn (The Dallas Morning News): "The United States has only tried about 30 people for treason. Count Texas Sen. John Cornyn among the growing number of officials who want to reopen the list and add NSA leaker Edward Snowden. 'I think he’s a traitor. He has leaked classified information about intelligence gathering techniques that the United States government has been involved in which have been authorized and overseen by the US government. I don’t know any other word to describe Mr. Snowden,' Cornyn said."
• Biden blasts Cruz, says Texas freshman makes most Senate Republicans 'cower' (Houston Chronicle): "Joe Biden spent a lot of time in the Senate — 32 years — and he says he’s never seen anything like the clout of two freshman minority senators, Republicans Ted Cruz of Texas and Rand Paul of Kentucky. … 'Think about this,' Biden said at a Washington fund-raising event for Massachusetts Senate candidate Ed Markey. 'Have you ever seen a time when two freshman senators are able to cower the bulk of the Republican Party in the Senate? That is not hyperbole.'"
• Rep. Rafael Anchia to seek another term in Texas House, Dallas mayoral bid unlikely (The Dallas Morning News): "From Canada, state Rep. Rafael Anchia said his announcement seeking re-election does not mean he won’t run for mayor. He did say, for the moment, he was focused on the Legislature."
• Southern Baptists approve anti-gay Boy Scout resolution (The Associated Press): "The Southern Baptist Convention approved a resolution Wednesday expressing its opposition to and disappointment in the Boy Scouts of America's new policy allowing gay Scouts."
New in The Texas Tribune
• "Kumbaya Session" Poised to Be a Distant Memory: "After a relatively calm regular session, Gov. Rick Perry is flexing his partisan muscles as the special session presses on. Redistricting, abortion-related issues and a threat to cut off state funding for the Public Integrity Unit are ratcheting up tensions."
• Gallego Wants Combs to Update Study on Immigrants' Fiscal Impact: "U.S. Rep. Pete Gallego, D-Alpine, is asking the state comptroller to update a study on the fiscal impact of Texas' population of undocumented immigrants."
• Some High School Students Off Hook on Failed State Exams: "High school students won't have to re-take standardized exams they failed in the six subjects that newly signed House Bill 5 eliminates from the state's testing requirements, the Texas Education Agency announced Wednesday."
• Texas Budget Includes Millions for Water Suit Against New Mexico: "A line deep in the Texas budget shows that the state has allocated $5 million toward its legal battle to extricate more river water from New Mexico. Texas has already hired a California lawyer to represent it against New Mexico in the case, which the U.S. Supreme Court could decide to hear."